Blunders in International Business (1999), by Professor David Ricks of University of Missouri-St. Louis, is a book about mistakes that companies make when they go international. The book is divided into 9 chapters, that focus on specific topics such as Production (location, layout etc.), Names (company and product names), Marketing (promotion, pricing), and Management (labor relations and cultural differences). Two of my favorite examples from the book are:
1. One of Nike’s recent television advertisements “included people from various countries reportedly stating Nike’s slogan- “just do it” -in their native languages. However, one man, a Samburu tribesman, was really saying, “I don’t want these, give me big shoes.”
2. The New York Helmsley Palace Hotel approved a promotion campaign that compared the hotel with the Taj Mahal with the line- “In India, Its the Taj Mahal. In New York It’s the Helmsley Palace.” Now, most people probably know that the Taj Mahal is probably a mausoleum for Emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal, not a hotel! So, imagine when the Helmsley Hotel compared itself to the Taj Mahal and proclaimed, “Service and appointments fit for royalty- you- our guests.”
Blunders in International Business is full of such entertaining nuggets about doing business internationally! (Of course, there are some trivial, minor examples too that don’t illustrate the point as much). All in all, its a good book, an easy read, that can be casually read in a short plane ride.